Hamilton homeless facility adds counseling to existing services

New Life Mission, a non-profit that has been in Hamilton for nearly 50 years, serving those in need by providing food, groceries and other essential items, may close its doors due to a lack of funding. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
New Life Mission, a non-profit that has been in Hamilton for nearly 50 years, serving those in need by providing food, groceries and other essential items, may close its doors due to a lack of funding. CONTRIBUTED

The New Life Mission in Hamilton, which has increased the services it provides the needy and homeless, recently added counseling by a Middletown-based agency for anyone who stops by, not just those needing food.

Brandy Slavens, senior executive director of operations for Access Counseling Services, said homeless people and others needing help with mental health or substance abuse can simply show up at New Life Mission, 415 Henry St., for help.

“We can work with them and hook them up with a psychiatrist,” Slavens said. “We can work with them on engaging with case managers to eliminate barriers for treatment or housing and employment.”

“It’s something that was easy, that we should have done a long time ago,” Slavens added. “But, it’s really been encouraging to be in a location where people are welcomed with open arms, and they’re willing to see the whole person.”

“That was a huge thing, getting them on site,” said the Rev. Felix Russo, who leads the mission. “Because the two main things, they intersect: mental health and addiction.”

People struggling with mental health often self-medicate in dysfunctional efforts to ease their struggles. That includes area prostitutes, Russo said.

Access staff are available whenever the New Life Mission is open, Slavens said. Her organization has been around about a decade and has focused more on homeless issues increasingly during the past four years.

Last year, New Life Mission served 28,000 hot meals and provided grocery items from its pantry to more than 12,000 people.

With the likelihood of more evictions approaching, “Even if it’s not more homeless, it will mean more struggles for families,” Slavens said. “And people who are typically not finding themselves in need of a counselor are finding that the struggle is just a bit too much for them to handle on their own.”

“They have caseworkers on site, getting connected with people,” diagnosing them for any kind of mental health needs they have,” Russo said. “That can be anything like depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), schizophrenia.”

Butler County Job and Family Services also is on site each Tuesday and Thursday to help with such issues as food stamps and employment.

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“The community knows us by the meals and the food pantry, but we’re growing more and more to be a once-stop shop for resources and services for those in need that we have on site here,” Russo said

“Our mission is to light a path from poverty to self-sufficiency in Butler County,” Russo said.

“New Life Mission does a good job of meeting the physical needs,” Slavens said. “But the other things that are more in our realm, that’s why they’re looking to refer on to us.”

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New Life Mission, at 415 Henry St. in Hamilton, has increased its mission to be a hub of different services that can help lift people out of poverty. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

New Life Mission, at 415 Henry St. in Hamilton, has increased its mission to be a hub of different services that can help lift people out of poverty. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF
Caption
New Life Mission, at 415 Henry St. in Hamilton, has increased its mission to be a hub of different services that can help lift people out of poverty. MIKE RUTLEDGE / STAFF

People often think of human trafficking as people kidnapping girls, Russo said, “but trafficking can be a guy on the street using a girl to trick her out as a prostitute to get drugs or money. And I see those couples all over the place all the time” in the city.

“I drive down High Street and I can tell the couples,” he said.

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